Posted in Laos

Luang Prabang, Laos – Lao New Year

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My mid-April 2010 visit to Luang Prabang coincided with Lao New Year.  In the Lao language, this is called Songkran or Pii Mai (just as in the Thai so I could speak Lao without even knowing it!).    The old tradition of respectfully sprinkling water on Buddha images and monks has become an all-out water fight, just as in Thailand.  One of the reasons I’d planned the trip to Laos during Songkran (the only time of the year that I have enough time off from work to travel) is that I’d grown weary of getting soaked whenever I went outside in Phuket during this holiday.  It’s not quite as intense as in Thailand but it seems to be heading that way…

My favorite aspect of Lao New Year was the Miss Pii Mai beauty contest.  While there are many beauty contests held in Laos, the old capital of Luang Prabang is widely known for it’s Nang Sang Karn pageant.  There are seven contestants, each one symbolizing one of King Kabinlaphrôm’s seven daughters.  My travel companion, a fellow teacher from upstate New York, and I stumbled across the pageant quite by accident and walked along with the parade that followed.  We even got our photos taken with a few of the contestants.

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